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Tender is the Night. by  F. Scott FITZGERALD - Signed First Edition - 1934 - from Peter Harrington and Biblio.com

Tender is the Night.

by FITZGERALD, F. Scott

Condition: See description


New York: Charles Scribner's Sons,, 1934. A Romance. Decorations by Edward Shenton. Octavo. Original green cloth, titles to spine gilt. Housed in a green quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery. Cloth a little worn and marked, front free endpaper neatly torn out, almost certainly by the author, text block slightly shaken, rear hinge expertly repaired. A very good copy. First edition, first printing, presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the first blank to his sometime lover, Margaret Case Harriman, "For Margaret Harriman, who has inspired all my books this tale of our life together in Switzerland, France & U.S.S.R. from Her Chattel F. Scott Fitzgerald July 1935", together with a line clipped from a pencilled autograph letter from the author ("you are very lovely") pasted to the second blank. "In signing letters or inscribing books to women, Fitzgerald used to call himself 'Your Chattel,' a curious and seemingly inappropriate phrase that conveyed no less than the truth: that he was a virtual slave to his need to attract nearly every woman he met" (Donaldson, p. 125). Fitzgerald's use of the phrase "our life in Switzerland, France & U.S.S.R." in the inscription refers to his life with Zelda, not Margaret - much of Tender is the Night is set in the French Riviera and Switzerland, paralleling the Fitzgeralds' life there in the 1920s. Intriguingly, the front free endpaper was almost certainly torn out of this copy by Fitzgerald. It is possible that he initially inscribed the front free endpaper, as was his custom, and having made a mistake, tore it out and inscribed the first blank instead. At the time this copy was inscribed, Zelda was being held at the Sheppard-Pratt hospital in Baltimore for psychiatric treatment, and Fitzgerald, reeling from the poor critical reception of Tender is the Night the previous year, increasingly dependent on alcohol, and in straitened financial circumstances, went through a period of intense womanizing in the summer of 1935. "From the evidence of his ledger, with its notes on each month's activities, it is clear that Fitzgerald devoted much of 1935 to the pursuit of women … wherever he went, that summer of 1935, he felt compelled to win the admiration of a woman" (Donaldson, p. 127). Margaret Harriman, a writer herself, who contributed to the New York Times and later authored The Vicious Circle, among other books, was one such liaison. "According to Fitzgerald's ledger, the two of them foregathered in New York twice, in late July 1935 and in December 1936. The 1935 meeting concluded with Fitzgerald badly hungover and nursing a wounded ego from Margaret's remark that novelist Joseph Hergesheimer was 'more established' than he" (Donaldson, p. 141). In a letter to Margaret after their July meeting, Fitzgerald wrote, "I started to come to New York yesterday afternoon, to see you, because I thought you'd think I'd run out on you, instead of on my own wretched state of mind and health … when I see you again I want everything to be right - even if I find you engrossed in a love affair with Geo V. and have no time for me" (Letters, August 1935). He went on to address her comment on Hergesheimer: "Of course he is more established than I am, in the same way that Hugh Walpole is more 'established' than D. H. Lawrence - established with whom? … But it is simply another sort of writing. Almost everything I write in novels goes, for better or worse, into the subconscious of the reader. People have told me years later things like 'The Story of Benjamin Button' in the form of an anecdote, having long forgotten who wrote it. This is probably the most egotistic thing about my writing I've ever put into script or even said … oh, there's so much to hear you say, no matter how much I'd be cynical about" (ibid.). Fitzgerald considered incorporating their affair into The Last Tycoon, with one of his working notes reading "'Put in Margaret Case episode after his wife's death'" (Donaldson, p. 141).

Tender is the Night was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first novel in nine years (since The Great Gatsby in 1925) and his fourth and final to complete. The generally autobiographical work reflects events surrounding the hospitalization of Fitzgerald’s schizophrenic wife, Zelda, and his own unrelenting alcoholism. Tender is the Night was published in four issues of Scribner's Magazine (January ­— April) until Charles Scribner’s Sons produced the first novel edition in April 1934. The novel, whose title comes from John Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale,” has two versions in print: the original, which uses flashbacks in the narrative, and the second, revised version, published posthumously by Malcolm Cowley, in which the storyline is restructured so that events take place chronologically. Some have suggested that this particular revision was in reaction to critics of the original. Tender is the Night sold only 12,000 copies in its first three months compared to Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise, which sold over 50,000 in a similar time period. Still, reception for Tender is the Night steadily grew over time. Today, it is ranked 28th on the Modern Library’s list of the “100 Best” English-language novels of the 20th century as well as 69th on NPR’s “100 Years, 100 Novels, One List.” Read more: Identifying first editions of Tender is the Night.




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